This morning, I read an article in which poet and professor Tracy K. Smith is quoted saying that “We all need poetry — even hedge fund managers. The moments in our lives that are characterized by language that has to do with necessity or the market, or just, you know, things that take us away from the big questions that we have, those are the things that I think urge us to think about what a poem can offer. Even the students who probably won’t keep writing poetry can learn from poems. The things that a poem can teach them to see and to hear and to listen for are necessary.”
My response? Do the hedge fund managers know they need poetry?
Yes, we all need to see the doctor from time to time. Yes, we all need to take our medicine, but do we know that we need to? And if we know, do we? Honestly, I really don’t think so.
I’ve also read that “In all ages, poetry has been regarded as important, not simply for pleasure, but as something central to each individual’s existence, something of unique value, and something which makes us feel better off for having and which we are spiritually impoverished without.”
Poetry is central to my existence, but I don’t believe it is central to existence. People live and live well without poetry. Rather, in my opinion, most people run from poetry as they might run from pestilence; yet, they live well. From their point of view, they live better.
I do believe that if poetry were a bigger part of the world the world, and those in it, might fare better. Sadly, I believe poetry may die before the world does. Those people I mentioned, those runners, everyday people, intelligent people…well, they just keep running.
I need poetry and I seek it out. Do others need it? Maybe they do, but why pursue it when they, in their minds, are getting along just fine without it?
Perhaps then, I’ve just convinced myself to spread a bit of poetry. Perhaps not. I’m really not sure.